Iberia interested in TAP Portugal

SPAIN’S NATIONAL flag carrier Iberia is interested in making a bid for part of TAP Portugal should it come under the hammer.

Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espanha SA made the announcement of interest following the Portuguese government’s statement last week that it would sell a share in the national flag carrier in 2007. In an interview with Diário Económico, Iberia’s chief CEO Angel Mullor said: “We will study the operation so long as it represents a real privatisation without government limitations.”

Portuguese Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos said that the government planned to sell an undisclosed amount of TAP next year as part of an overall privatisation package needed to stem spiralling government national debt.

However, the sell-off is unlikely to represent more than 49 per cent since the government has also expressed its intention to retain control of the national carrier, which has been showing healthy profits and is looking to take over part of Brazilian carrier Varig, which is in crisis and has seen its market share in Brazil tumble by 21.73 per cent.

In 2004, the number of passengers using TAP was up by 13.5 per cent, while the company was valued at 1.2 billion euros despite recent price hikes in the cost of kerosene fuel.